Sena SMH 10 Bluetooth Headset/Intercom

A few years ago Sue and I started using the Sena SMH 10 as an intercom when we were riding two-up on the bike, but the Sena has shown itself to be even more valuable now that we're on different bikes. Sena claims they will work for up to just shy of 1,000 yards, which seems pretty consistent with our experience.

In reality, when we're riding in a group we are seldom (if ever) that far apart, for all but the biggest groups, 1,000 or so yards should be about all you need. In other words, there are 1,750 yards in a mile, so you have a range of roughly half a mile—which feels pretty good to me.

The Bluetooth 3.0 technology also connects to my phone so I can receive a phone call from the bike if I want to. I've programmed a unique ringtone for Sue, so I can answer her call incase it's something important or ignore anyone else while I'm on the road.

I don't make it a habit of making calls from the motorcycle since I look down my nose at people in cars preoccupied with their #%&@! phones and think it would be pretty stupid to be making phone calls while on the bike. Pressing the button on the Sena makes it easy to answer the phone, so it doesn't require that I look away from the road to answer.

The primary benefit of connecting to the phone is that I can listen to music if I want to. I usually prefer to just listen to the sounds of the road, but if I'm pounding out a couple hours of Interstate, I'll sometimes break the monotony of the concrete slab with some tunes.

It will connect to any bluetooth device that's compatible with HSP/HFP (Headset Profile/Hands Free Profile) and A2DP (Advance Audio Distribution Profile) technology. Which means, in addition to your smart phone, you should be able to connect to an MP3 player or your GPS unit. What's more, it will also connect to other bluetooth headsets even if they aren't Sena.

Technical Specifications:

  • Talk time: 12 hours
  • Standby time: 10 days
  • Working Distance (Intercom): Up to 900 meters (980 yards) in open terrain
  • Bluetooth: v3.0 + EDR
  • Audio: Built-in SBC Codec, 48kHz (DAC) sample rate
  • Battery Charging time: 2.5 hours
  • Battery Type: Lithium polymer battery
  • Headset Dimensions: 84.1 mm x 56.5 mm x 38.6 mm (3.3 in x 2.2 in x 1.5 in)
  • Headset Weight: 60 g (3.01 oz)
  • Clamp Dimensions: 223.8 mm x 85.5 mm x 30.6mm (8.8 in x 3.4 in x 1.2 in)
  • Clamp Weight: 84 g (2.96 oz)

I don't notice the unit on the side of my helmet (you can see how it attaches in the photo above) and the mic boom fits nicely under the helmet and places the mic right in front of my mouth—so the person on the other end doesn't get blasted with a lot of wind noise. 

NOTE: If you have a full-face helmet, there's a mic you can fasten to the inside of your helmet so you don't have to worry about the boom. It's just not practical for a modular helmet.

What I like about the Sena SMH 10:

  • The controls are simple and easy to use—even with a gloved hand.
  • The talk time seems to be consistent with what Sena claims. It's roughly good for a full day of touring before you lose battery power (remember to plug it in if you're heading out the next day)
  • Sound quality is pretty good. I wouldn't call it HiFidelity, but inside a full face or modular helmet I can still hear everything at 75 or 80 mph.
  • Pairing devices is pretty straightforward.
  • It's easy to check battery life.
  • Batteries charge to full in a couple of hours (I usually plug the helmets in before I go to bed and they are charged and ready to go in the morning.
  • They don't appear to be fragile at all, but rather feel pretty bullet proof.
  • It's relatively inexpensive compared to some of the other headsets available.
  • Will fit on just about any full face or modular helmet.

What I don't like about the Sena SMH10:

  • Pairing can sometimes be wonky. It technically should pair with any familiar device, but I often find myself going through the pairing sequence before a ride to connect our helmets. As a result, I tend to leave the headsets on when we get of the bikes for lunch to avoid going through the process before we get on the road again.
  • If Sue forgets to tuck her mic boom up and completely inside her helmet, I get a lot of wind noise and need to reminder her.

The pairing issue is a nuisance, but isn't a real deal breaker for me. Nevertheless, if I were giving this a Star Rating, it wouldn't get 5-Stars, but I would probably give it 4-Stars. You should also know, it's not the latest and greatest Sena headset, but it's simple to use, is easy to learn, less expensive than the newer units with all the bells and whistles and has been pretty bulletproof. At least, it does everything Sue and I need it to do.

What Comes in the Box:

Sena SMH10-10 Bluetooth Headset, speaker/microphone clamp unit, USB power and data cable, DC vehicle charger, 3.5mm stereo audio jack cable, glued surface mounting adapter, microphone sponges, speaker pads, velcro pads, Allen wrench (for installation), microphone cap, manual, warranty.

You'll need to snap out your helmet liner to run the wires and install the speakers. Many helmets today have a recess where the speakers go under the liner and the included clamp slips under the liner and to the shell of your helmet quite easily. It's not integrated into your helmet, so if you'd prefer a more streamlined look, this isn't the headset for you.

Sue and I have enjoyed the headsets when we were always riding two-up, but I'm convinced the headsets also made it a lot easier for Sue to learn to ride the bike. It definitely helps her feel more comfortable on a tour—especially if we're going someplace she isn't familiar with. It would be much harder for her to have me behind her if we couldn't communicate. In fact, this is something I've come to think of as a "must have" when we're riding together.

If you are helping someone learn how to ride, being able to talk them through something in real time is incredibly helpful.